Curricular Resource Center

Understand the Approval Process

The Independent Concentration (IC) subcommittee of the College Curriculum Council (CCC), a group of faculty, deans, and students chaired by the Dean of the College, meets five times during the school year to review the submitted IC proposals. The IC subcommittee usually includes four CCC voting members and the CRC IC student coordinators. The IC Dean chairs the IC subcommittee.

Subcommittee members use the IC rubric to evaluate Independent Concentrations.

Proposals will receive one of the following decisions from the committee:

    Proposal has met all of the requirements for an IC. The course of study provides the student with the ability to meet their stated learning objectives; the IC has a cohesive narrative, course list, and capstone/thesis; the IC studies the field broadly and deeply in an area of focus; the student has strong advising support from faculty sponsor(s) and other advising networks; and the student has met full approval before the end of their 6th semester.

    A proposal has nearly met all the above requirements; the student needs to address a few minor points or areas of concern; the proposal does not need to go back to the full committee.

    Proposal has met some but not enough of the necessary requirements for provisional or full approval; if resubmitted, proposal will go back to the full committee.

    Proposal needs significant rewrite, e.g.: narrative needs reframing and perhaps reconsidering, stated concentration lacks cohesion amongst the stated areas of study, student has not argued persuasively enough for its distinction from one of Brown's standard concentrations, course list does not align well with learning goals, it is unclear with courses are available at Brown for the intended field of study, faculty sponsor letter is insufficient; student is encouraged to workshop their proposal with a member of the Writing Center.

    IC proposal cannot be completed at Brown (e.g., a field of study outside the scope of the liberal arts); the proposal is too similar to a standard concentration; the student was unable to achieve Provisional Approval by the end of their 6th semester. Even with this decision, a student can submit another fundamentally reconsidered proposal and must meet with IC Coordinators to discuss structural changes to the proposal.

    Navigating Approval

    Few ICs receive approval on their first submission. However, ICs that do not receive approval always receive feedback from the committee to help you revise and edit your proposal should you resubmit. We aim to make Independent Concentrations happen, not prevent them from happening!

    About 50 - 70% of proposals are eventually approved annually; some students begin the process during one academic year and then have their IC approved the following year. Most students who were not approved were allowed to resubmit but decided not to. Students are strongly encouraged to come to the CRC to discuss their feedback and the committee’s decision in more detail before resubmitting.